Every Wednesday during the season, NHL.com Correspondent Brian Metzer will provide you with an in-depth analysis of fantasy defensemen in our weekly segment: "On the 'D'-fence." From updated defensemen rankings to guys you should keep a close eye on and much more, Metzer will be your fantasy D-man insider all season long.
The Calgary Flames entered a rebuilding mode last season when they traded core players like defenseman Jay Bouwmeester and long-time captain Jarome Iginla. They started the 2013-14 season with a youthful roster that still is developing, but they do have some carryovers from the old regime, including new captain Mark Giordano.
Giordano was knocked out of the lineup Oct. 21 when he was struck in the ankle by a shot during a 3-2 win against the Los Angeles Kings. It was a significant blow to the team as Giordano had sparked them to a 4-2-2 record in their first eight games by picking up two goals and seven assists in that span.
He missed 18 games with the ankle injury, a stretch that saw the Flames go 5-11-2. His loss also hurt fantasy owners who were reaping the benefits of his hot start. Both were forced to look elsewhere for production and found it in the form of Flames defenseman Kris Russell, but we will discuss that another day.
Russell held down the fort until Giordano got back in the lineup Dec. 4 and had a goal and an assist in 4-1 win against the Phoenix Coyotes. However he had one goal and three assists in his first eight games and it took him to get back to the level he was at to start the season.
The Flames still are struggling a bit but Giordano has looked a lot more like the player he was before his ankle injury, which is great news for fantasy owners. He has 12 points in his past 19 games and has at least one point in his past seven, a span that has seen him total three goals and four assists.
His scoring streak has been good news for the Flames as well as they have parlayed it into a three game winning streak. They still have the third-fewest points in the League, but Giordano is doing his best to help the Flames crawl back into Stanley Cup Playoff contention.
The 30-year-old is averaging .71 points per game this season which would be a career high. His previous best of .52 points per game came during the 2010-11 season when he had 43 points in 82 games.
If Giordano can maintain this pace he could put up 21 points in the Flames’ final 29 games, which would help him set a new career high in points with 45.
In 35 games this season Giordno has 25 points, an even plus/minus rating, 34 penalty minutes, 59 blocked shots and 91 shots on goal. He also has a team-high 12 points on the power play.
There are no guarantees, especially when the Flames could be moving parts out at the trade deadline again this season as part of their rebuild, but this is a player who likely will help fantasy owners the rest of the way.
Why not let him help you? He is owned in just 46 percent of Yahoo Fantasy leagues, which means that he could be available in yours.
Alex Goligoski, Dallas Stars –- Goligoski did not get off to the start that he or the Stars had hoped this season, picking up six points in his first 23 games and 14 in 44. That production scared fantasy owners off and his ownership fell, but something happened over the past eight games — he put up 10 points. He also has points in four straight games, a span that has seen him total seven assists. For the season he has two goals, 22 assists, 93 shots on goal and eight power-play points. If there is one drawback it is his minus-5 rating but things are looking up. He is owned in just 40 percent of Yahoo Leagues.
Lubomir Visnovsky, New York Islanders –- Visnovsky played nine games due to a concussion but finally returned to the lineup Monday. He had a plus-1 rating and one shot on goal against the Boston Bruins. He will man the point on a power play that features players like John Tavares, Thomas Vanek, Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen and really could help fantasy owners the rest of the way. He is owned in 33 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Tom Gilbert, Florida Panthers — Gilbert was a very viable fantasy performer during his days with the Edmonton Oilers, putting up seasons of 33, 45, 31 and 26 points. He wasn’t able to maintain those numbers of the past few seasons but has been a big part of the Panthers’ offense this season. Gilbert has six points in his past four games and has pushed his season totals to two goals, 24 points, 62 shots on goal, four power-play points and one game-winning goal. He is owned in two percent of Yahoo leagues.
Andre Benoit, Colorado Avalanche — Benoit provided some fantasy punch early in the season with 11 points in his first 20 games. But he had seven points in his next 24 and has gone seven games without a point. Benoit should be used only in the deepest of fantasy leagues.
Andy Greene, New Jersey Devils — Greene is one of those players whose fantasy value rises and falls throughout the season. Sometimes he is among the most productive players while sometimes his production drops off. Greene has seven goals and 24 points this season but three points in his past 11 games. Look for production elsewhere for the time being.
Dennis Wideman, Calgary Flames — Wideman has been a productive player in past seasons but that hasn’t translated in Calgary this season. He has 15 points in 37 games, but has three points in his past 13. He ice time has been cut recently and he does not have a shot on goal in his past three games. He could pick up the pace at any time but he is best served as an extra for your team.
KEEP AN EYE ON ...
Tyson Barrie, Colorado Avalanche — Barrie has had his ups and downs this season but recently has found the consistency that was lacking earlier in the season. He has three points in his past two games and has pushed his totals to six goals, 16 points, 50 shots on goal and a plus-89 rating. He is the perfect acquisition in a keeper or dynasty league. He is owned in 24 percent of Yahoo leagues, so he probably is available in yours.
1. Erik Karlsson, Senators (same)
2. Duncan Keith, Blackhawks (same)
3. Alex Pietrangelo, Blues (same)
4. P.K. Subban, Canadiens (same)
5. Shea Weber, Predators (same)
6. Dustin Byfuglien, Jets (+1)
7. Keith Yandle, Coyotes (+1)
8. Ryan Suter, Wild (-2)
9. Kevin Shattenkirk, Blues (+1)
10. Drew Doughty, Kings (+1)
11. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Coyotes (-2)
12. Niklas Kronwall, Red Wings (+1)
13. Brent Seabrook, Blackhawks (-2)
14. Kris Letang, Penguins (+2)
15. Zdeno Chara, Bruins (+2)
16. Mike Green, Capitals (-2)
17. Jay Bouwmeester, Blues (-2)
18. James Wisniewski, Blue Jackets (same)
19. Cody Franson, Maple Leafs (+1)
20. Jason Garrison, Canucks (-1)
21. Ryan McDonagh, Rangers (same)
22. Brian Campbell, Panthers (+2)
23. Andrei Markov, Canadiens (-1)
24. Matt Niskanen, Penguins (+6)
25. Dan Boyle, Sharks (-2)
26. Justin Schultz, Oilers (same)
27. John Carlson, Capitals (same)
28. Matt Carle, Lightning (-3)
29. Cam Fowler, Ducks (same)
30. Andrej Sekera, Hurricanes (+2)
31. Torey Krug, Bruins (+3)
32. Dion Phaneuf, Maple Leafs (+1)
33. Slava Voynov, Kings (-5)
34. Andrew MacDonald, Islanders (-3)
35. Marek Zidlicky, Devils (+2)
36. Mark Streit, Flyers (-1)
37. Christian Ehrhoff, Sabres (+1)
38. Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Sharks (-2)
39. Victor Hedman, Lightning (+6)
40. Tobias Enstrom, Jets (+1)
41. Jacob Trouba, Jets (+1)
42. Jack Johnson, Blue Jackets (+1)
43. Mark Giordano, Flames (+1)
44. Lubomir Visnovsky, Islanders (NR)
45. Alex Edler, Canucks (-6)
46. Dennis Wideman, Flames (-6)
47. Alex Goligoski, Stars (+3)
48. Francois Beauchemin, Ducks (-2)
49. Roman Josi, Predators (same)
50. Fedor Tyutin, Blue Jackets (-2)
51. Jason Demers, Sharks (-4)
52. Jake Muzzin, Kings (same)
53. Eric Gelinas, Devils (+2)
54. Justin Faulk, Hurricanes (+3)
55. Erik Johnson, Avalanche (-4)
56. Kimmo Timonen, Flyers (+3)
57. Derek Morris, Coyotes (-3)
58. Tom Gilbert, Panthers (NR)
59. Sergei Gonchar, Stars (NR)
60. Hampus Lindholm, Ducks (-2)
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